Instead, the police, armed with guns, hovered around for nearly an hour before finally storming the classroom and gunning down the gunman, who had just killed 19 children and two teachers.
But it turned out that the door to that classroom couldn’t be locked from the inside, and there’s no indication police tried to open it while the shooter was inside, said Col. Steve McCraw, director of the Texas Department of Public safety. The police waited for the key instead, he said.
Why didn’t you examine the handle to see if the door really is locked? asked the statewide official.
Colonel McCraw testified Tuesday at a Texas Senate hearing on police action during the May 24 tragedy at the Uvalde School. Delays in law enforcement response have been investigated by the federal, Texas and local governments.
Apparently there was simply not enough training in this situation. The local commander made terrible decisionssaid McCraw of Uvalde School District Police Chief Pete Arredondo.
Eight minutes after the shooter entered the school, an officer pointed out that police had a crowbar that could be used to kick down the classroom door, McCraw said. Nineteen minutes after the gunman entered, the first ballistic shield was brought into the building by police, the witness said.
Mr. McCraw told the Senate committee that Pete Arredondo had decided to put police officers’ lives ahead of children’s.
A series of missed opportunities
The state’s director of public safety Tuesday listed a number of missed opportunities, misunderstandings, and other mistakes that day to the Senate committee:
- Chief Arredondo didn’t have a radio with him.
- Police and sheriff radios didn’t work at school; only those of the Border Patrol agents on the ground worked indoors and not perfectly.
- Some of the school’s charts, which the police used to coordinate their intervention, were wrong.
Questions about police intervention began a few days after the killing. Mr McCraw had said three days after the shooting that Chief Arredondo made “the wrong decision” in choosing not to storm the classroom for more than 70 minutes.
Meanwhile, trapped fourth graders in two classrooms frantically called 911 for help, and frantic parents outside the school asked police to enter the facility.
Mr Arredondo later explained that he did not see himself in charge that day – he assumed someone else had taken the reins of the intervention. He has declined repeated requests from The Associated Press for comment on the case.
As for the time elapsed before the police entered the classroom, Mr. McCraw believes
In an active shooter environment, this is unbearable […] it set our profession back a decade.
In the days and weeks after the shooting, authorities gave conflicting and false accounts of what happened, sometimes retracting statements hours after they were made. Mr McCraw, meanwhile, reassured lawmakers on Tuesday that all he testified was
The 18-year-old gunman used an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle.